Dilbert (and his boss) on the perils of giving advice

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert must either be in a forum, or have learned in other ways that the path of telling people what to do (giving advice) is fraught with peril.  Witness two of his recent cartoon strips on this topic.

In Adams’ first strip, the pointy-haired boss observes (in a rare bit of wisdom from his mouth) that “advice only works for the one who gives it.”  In Adams’ second strip, Dilbert responds to an offer of advice that “advice is just ego and ignorance disguised as helpfulness.”

In both cases, Adams’ observations reflect that advice is often more about value for the giver than for the recipient; and more about judging the recipient than looking honestly at oneself.

Consider sharing these humorous takes on advice giving with your forum mates, and channeling Scott Adams the next time you serve as your forum’s language observer.

How does your brain process emotions: Lessons from the Disney/Pixar movie “Inside Out”

The recently released movie “Inside Out” may wow you with its animations and special effects, but it is not a children’s movie.  We peer inside the brain of a young girl and see five emotions – joy, sadness, anger, disgust, and fear – fighting to control what will be imprinted into her core memory, and with which emotional “color.” Encourage everyone in your forum to watch the movie before your next meeting, and then pose some of these questions suggested by Abigail Burd:

  1. When we meet Riley, most of the time Joy is in charge of her thoughts and personality. Which emotion(s) do you feel most often?
  2. Riley and her family go through a lot of changes when they move from Minnesota to San Francisco. Have you ever gone through a big transition like this?
  3. How are the glowing balls, or “core memories” made? What are yours?
  4. What do the core memories have to do with Riley’s personality?
  5. When Sadness touches one of the happy core memories, she colors it blue. What do you think is going on then? Is it possible that our current moods can color our past memories? Or how we define our personality?
  6. When Riley’s mother tells her that she is helping her parents by being their “happy girl,” Riley feels pressure to only show them her joy. What do you think of this?
  7. Do you think that our society values certain emotions over others? Which ones?
  8. At the end of the movie, Joy learns that other emotions, especially Sadness, are also important. Why?
  9. Do you think it is easier for males or females, or for younger or older people, to express different emotions? Which ones? Why?

How to live wisely: Some questions for your forum

Harvard professor Richard Light recently wrote in the New York Times about a new seminar for undergraduates called “Reflecting on Your Life.”  The format and the questions posed are designed to help freshmen identify their goals and reflect systematically about various aspects of their life.  The intended audience may be young adults, but it struck me that, with a little adaptation, forum members at any age could benefit from this approach.  Two examples:

  • Make a list of how you want to spend your time over the next six months. What matters to you? What’s important?  Next, make a list of how you actually spent your time, on average, each day over the past week, and then compare the lists.  Finally, ask yourself, how well do your commitments actually match your goals?
  • If you could become extraordinarily good at one thing versus being pretty good at many things, which approach would you choose? Given your choice, how can you organize your life to follow your chosen path in a purposeful way?

See the full article for more exercises you could adapt and bring to your forum.